Following a day in which they put their boat on the side, but fortunately, not on the bottom, bottom of Bermuda Sound that is, Emirates Team New Zealand has beaten Ben Ainslie twice to earn a berth in the Louis Vuitton challenger final.
It was a team effort of the greatest imaginable magnitude to get the catamaran back together following a scary crash Wednesday, with the offshore support crew performing miracles to restore things shipshape.
That was followed by some superb seamanship by the Kiwis’ helmsman, Peter Burling. Team New Zealand concluded by winning their semifinal series 5 – 2.
Race seven of the series was the perfect complement to the fine showing in race five. Team BAR did not submit easily and Ainslie and his sailors were supreme on the bonny main.
Beating Ainslie, who once was primary tactician for Oracle Team USA in the last America’s Cup in 2015, is a feather in the cap for Team New Zealand. BAR spent lavishly in the attempt to reclaim the Auld Mug they lost to the upstart Yanks in 1851.
The next test for Team New Zealand will be the winner of the semifinal between Artemis and Team Japan. The Swedish team and Japan are all square after the Swedes mounted a significant come back to square that series with two victories in the morning regatta.
In the race the Kiwis won to move ahead, Burling was the picture of perfection, with a cracking start that gave them the lead throughout and resulted in a 46-second victory.
It was not completely smooth sailing for Team New Zealand. They had to successfully navigate a section that had given them trouble when they crashed two days ago. They had to make up several hundred metres to catch BAR. They caught Ainslie on the next to final leg.